Radio was an important source of information and knowledge formation among the rural populace and played a vital role in empowering the masses, said M.K. Alagiri, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, on Saturday.

Delivering the inaugural address after formally launching the Gyan Vani Educational FM Radio Station (at 105.6), in Madurai Kamaraj University (MKU) on Saturday Mr. Alagiri said at a time when commercialisation had become the central element among the FM radio stations, the launch of Gyan Vani would send across a message to broadcasters to turn to knowledge and information sharing rather than crude commercialisation.

The Union Minister distributed awards to college teachers for innovative practices and experiments in higher education and inaugurated the Free Education Scheme of MKU to support poor students in the distance education mode. He gave away education assistance certificates to 23 students.

Teachers played a vital role in shaping the future of society and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government always supported the cause of the teaching community. The recent salary revision for them bore testimony to this, he said.

From the student’s perspective, the DMK always tried to bridge the economic divide in availing education by supporting students from economically and socially weaker sections of society. The equitable standard in school education would revolutionise the education scenario and end the disparities, he said.

Expectations galore

Reacting to a demand made by the Vice-Chancellor, R. Karpaga Kumaravel, for one more university in Madurai, Mr. Alagiri promised, “When I meet the Chief Minister next time, my first and foremost demand would be to ask for a university for Madurai.”

The Minister also said that efforts were on to bring more government educational institutions to Madurai and the southern districts. He felt that MKU should become an information technology hub for the southern districts.

The Vice-Chancellor said the objective of starting a Gyan Vani station was to use FM radio as an instrument to bring about social and educational development, focusing on rural development, gender equality, health and hygiene aspects. The programmes would be produced, designed and aired by MKU itself. They would reach listeners in a radius of 60 kilometres.

Tulasi Brindha Varadarajan, Professor and Head, Department of Economics, M. Thirumalai, Professor and Head, Department of Tamil, M. Jayalakshmi, Lecturer, School of Biological Sciences, MKU received the first three prizes among the University and J. Balan, Assiatant Professor and Head, Department of Tourism, MKU College, P. Narayana Raja, Principal, Madurai Institute of Social Sciences, R. Manohar, Assistant Professor, Department of Commerce, Ayya Nadar Janakiammal College, Sivakasi, R.V. Jeba Rajasekar, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, Government Arts College, Melur received the awards for affiliated colleges. M. Shanmugam, Regional Director, Indira Gandhi Open University, delivered the vote of thanks.